Posted on November 29, 2018
This Jeep is Snowbird Tested | Brampton and Mississauga
Want to deepen your relationship with your vehicle? Take a road trip. A very long one. You might think you know her well after all those hours together driving around Brampton, Mississauga and Hamilton, but it’s not the same as a legitimate snowbird voyage south. Way south. My family was a little shocked when I announced that our new Jeep Cherokee was taking us all the way to sunny Mexico. Why not fly, their expressions said. Why DRIVE? But anyone who knows me, knows not to bother telling me not to do something. Jeep lovers crave adventure. This was the ultimate snowbird Jeep road test.
Believe it or not, I do follow my own advice
, and so Lupe (her official name is Lupe LaLoba)
went in to see the trusty folks at the Team Chrysler service department
for an on-schedule oil change
and overall check-up. Yes, even though she was brand new when we bought her and low on kilometres, we were about to put her through her paces. From Southern Ontario over to see some friends in California, then over the border at Douglas, Arizona and right on down to Oaxaca. We packed a roadside flare kit (voice of my dear old dad in my ears), a brand-new jerry can for emergency fuel, back-up windshield washer, headlight-friendly
towels (those trusty blue ones), extra water just for Lupe (stranded in the desert nightmares, anyone?) and yes, a quaint little old school paper map. You know, in case we lost our GPS signal in those alien-infested desert canyons. Gas can: still clean, never used. Mexico has plenty of gas stations, contrary to online gossip. Paper map: a nice souvenir. A new Cherokee comes with a spare tire, jack and the required tools for an emergency roadside tire change. We also had a great Roadside Assistance
package with our warranty. Pretty sure Thelma and Louise didn’t travel over that legendary canyon cliff with Rubbermaid totes full of curry powder and art supplies in the back, but who knows?
Storage-wise, I leave the math to your personal needs. Two women
made a 14-day road trek with snacks, confused pet and two wardrobes, all neatly arranged. We could even see out the windows.
Some interstate highways are less than smooth. The Cherokee did well on those. By the time we reached Iowa, some off-the-planned-itinerary adventure ensued. While it is a great state with multiple tracks for off-roading, we had other lures. We spotted a sign that mentioned the historic covered bridges of Madison County. Yes, the ones mentioned in the famous romance novel and movie of the same name. Dirt roads, some of them quite hilly, rocky and also curvy, took us to see THE bridge. The one where Meryl poses for Clint. Chick flick fans will have no need for me to continue. In short: stunningly beautiful back country driving. We made good use of the Selec Terrain option on the sand-pit curves and gravel inclines. The very same option came in handy in Utah, on Scenic Biway 128. Afternoon rain caused some of that legendary blood-red earth turned to superthick wheel-grabbing mud. We really did not want to get stuck with our patient Cocker Spaniel in the back seat. Smooth, nicely responsive braking was equally reassuring in Colorado, where we got our first taste of steep downhill mountain curves.
When it comes to comfort, the Cherokee North
is quite dreamy, with nice heated seats (the desert is cold, and my wife has a bad back) and good shocks. Find out why good shocks and ground clearance are essential just by googling “tips for driving in Mexico.” Mexican potholes can be wide and deep, but it’s the topes
(speedbumps) that can really mess with your holiday plans if you hit one going too fast. You only hit one before you learn to not do so again, but our Jeep took it pretty well, tires and suspension. For a road trip of this length, I vote SUV or truck over sedan. If you’re too low to the ground when you meet a taller-than-a-toddler speedbump and you can say hasta la vista
to your tires or your suspension.
Our dog didn’t say much about the leg room situation in the back seat, although he did appreciate the air conditioning vent, and possibly the stereo quality. He was, it must be said, asleep for much of the trip. (He really did love the Grand Canyon, though, if his constantly wagging tail was any indication as we wandered along the South Rim, a dream come true. World’s biggest dog park is how he experienced it.) The SIRIUS package that came with the Jeep was very helpful on those long empty stretches with not much to look at. Sorry, Nebraska. The stereo that comes standard with the Cherokee has good tone and speakers boosted just enough to keep the whole family singing for miles. (Or kilometres, as we say in Canada and Mexico!) Speaking of kilometres, the 2018 Jeep Cherokee was good on gas. My very first car was a Grand Cherokee, and admittedly she had a thirst, but to be fair that was also before technology allowed SUVs to go from shameless guzzlers to polite sippers. My estimated fuel costs for the trip came in close to actual receipts tallied, with the ups and downs in cost state-to-state and the recent deregulation of fuel prices in Mexico. I wasn’t dreading the trip back home, which felt good.
I admit that I had some Wrangler
pangs on all those canyon and desert roads, where it felt like every other vehicle was a Rubicon
or a Sahara
. In big sky canyon country, in mountainous Colorado, the Wrangler offers a year-round versatility that must come in handy in all weather conditions. And I like that Wrangler
attitude, visible even when she’s parked at a motel overnight. If I was planning to stick around Ontario for winters, I’d seriously consider a Wrangler. (Hey, anyone who feels like buying me one, I’m turning 50 very soon…) But our sweet 2018 Cherokee
did her job beautifully and she loves to ride for long stretches. I’d say she passed and exceeded her road test long-haul to Mexico very nicely. I think we’ll invite her back again next year. Unless of course someone leaves this
in my driveway with a ribbon on it round about April. Till then, I’ll be practicing my car-related Spanish so I can bring Lupe to the Jeep service centre in Oaxaca. I want to make sure she enjoys her ride north just as much as she did her trip south. Taking care of your vehicle is important
, can’t stress it enough. For the tasks you can't or shouldn't tackle on your own, Team Chrysler is always here to help you do that on a schedule
Where can I buy a Jeep Cherokee or Jeep Wrangler in Mississauga?
has a full inventory of new
Jeeps to meet your road-tripping dreams. (And your daily drives, too.)
Where is Team Chrysler located?